Mon 25 Nov 19
Tributes are being paid to pioneering political scientist Professor Vicky Randall following the announcement of her death last week.
Professor Randall became Emeritus Professor in the Department of Government following her retirement in 2010 and received a Special Recognition Award from the Political Studies Association in 2012. The award recognised her tireless work integrating gender analysis into political science and her efforts to secure fairer representation of women in political life and the study of politics.
Her body of work addressed the role of women in democracy, and was truly comparative, covering childcare policy in welfare states, women’s legislative quotas and child prostitution. She is one of a generation of high profile female academics who shaped the discipline through her scholarship and through her activism, not least as Chair of the Political Studies Association. She was also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.
At the time of her Special Recognition Award, the jury praised Professor Randall’s ”services to the promotion of political studies as well as her contributions to both the Political Studies Association and to gender and politics scholarship”.
Many academics across the world have paid tribute to Professor Randall on social media. Pippa Norris, the Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government said on Twitter: "Sad to learn today of the death of Vicky Randall, emeritus Professor of Government at Essex University, leading British scholar on gender politics and the politics of development, and old friend. A pioneer who paved the way for us, she will be missed."
Professor Johanna Kantola, Professor of Gender Studies, at Tampere University, said on Twitter: "Had the privilege to have Vicky as my external PhD examiner at Bristol University 15 years ago - she was encouraging and inspiring, a true gender and politics pioneer."
After her formal retirement in 2010, Professor Randall maintained her research interest in gender and politics; in politics in developing countries; and in political parties. However her main new research focus became old age and politics, specifically the participation of older people in political parties and third sector organisations.
Professor Randall authored a huge range of publications on women and politics, including The Politics of Child Daycare in Britain (2000); Women and Politics (2nd Ed, 1987) and (with Joni Lovenduski) Contemporary Feminist Politics (1993) and also co-edited Gender, Politics and the State (with Georgina Waylen 1998). She also researched and published on 'third world' topics, including (with Robin Theobald) Political Change and Underdevelopment (2nd Ed, 1998); and two edited volumes - Political Parties in the Third World (1998) and Democratization and the Media (1998). She was co-editor (with Peter Burnell and Lise Rakner) of Politics in the Developing World.
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"I first met Vicky Randall as a struggling part-time PhD student presenting for the first time at a PSA women and politics conference at the LSE; I knew her work of course. As an undergraduate at the University of Sussex I'd read - hungrily consumed - her classic Women & Politics. Half way through what turned out to be a 7 year part-time PhD, I needed to hear her's and Joni Lovenduski's encouragement that my work was interesting and important; without such interventions I may very well have given up. I told her some years later just how significant her words at the end of the presentation had been. I chose Vicky to be my PhD examiner, thorough in her questions as you would expect, but as ever kind. It was this combination of attributes that made me sure she'd be right to be Chair of the PSA. Too long a highly masculinised institution I was confident Vicky's intellectual commitment to women and politics, to justice and fairness and with an approach that was always professional, calm and considered would reorient the institution. Her efforts can be seen today in the PSA's commitment to D&I. Amidst the sadness, I very much look forward to raising some bubbles with other gender and politics friends to commemorate her life, work and the support and friendship she offered to us. One of the pioneering generation of women and politics scholars who made our community strong, re-gendered our profession, and taught those of us from the next generation how we should support those that come after us."
Professor Sarah Childs, Birkbeck, University of London
"I was very sad to hear the news about Vicky Randall. Vicky was a good friend, and a supportive and stimulating colleague. I was privileged to contribute a chapter to her successful book on the politics of the developing countries, and had the good luck to be at Gothenburg University, Sweden, at the same time as her. Vicky had a rare combination of human sympathy, intellectual rigour and insight, and exemplary professionalism. She will be much missed by friends and colleagues (and many who have been fortunate to be both)."
Emeritus Professor Michael Freeman, University of Essex
"Vicky Randall was an amazing mentor and colleague - she was always kind, generous and insightful. She helped me enormously at the beginning of my career and then became a friend and colleague who I always enjoyed working with. She was such an important pioneer in the field of gender and politics and will be sorely missed by several generations of scholars."
Professor Georgina Waylen, University of Manchester
“Vicky was a wonderful mentor and friend, and I was privileged to be her colleague in the Department of Government at the University of Essex. Her research and books in the fields of gender politics and the politics of the global south, amongst others, stand out as beacons of engaged and critical scholarship. We will all miss her greatly.”
Professor David Howarth, University of Essex
"I’m so sad to hear about the passing of such a champion of the study of gender and politics and of women in academia. Vicky always went out of her way to seek out and support junior colleagues, she was warm, encouraging and fiercely intelligent. Vicky was one of a group of women scholars who transformed the discipline and the profession. It was such a pleasure and privilege to know her."
Professor Rosie Campbell, King’s College London
"Vicky Randall was one of the original founders of the Women and Politics Group of the PSA, through which we met and became friends and research collaborators. Meeting her was one of the great pleasures of that experience. She was an outstanding scholar, fun to work and travel with and always interesting. She was also a reliable and effective supporter of younger colleagues especially but not exclusively women. Her mentoring contributed to the careers of many of the current generation of UK political science professors."
Professor Joni Lovenduski FBA, Birkbeck, University of London
"Vicky Randall was an exceptional scholar and a tremendous colleague. She was also a compassionate human being and a great friend. She will be greatly missed."
Professor John Bartle, University of Essex
"Vicky was a good friend to me in my first academic job, which was at Essex 1990 to 1992. Vicky was an outstanding and always self-effacing scholar and an inspiration to many."
Professor Vivien Lowndes, University of Birmingham
"I was a PhD student at the Department of Government under Vicky's supervision between 1993-1999 when I researched and wrote my thesis on Post-Eighth Amendment Irish Abortion Politics. Before enrolling at the University she helped me to meticulously and thoroughly write and frame my thesis proposal. In all of my time as a PhD student she proved to be a methodical and inspiring supervisor and a compassionate human being. These qualities were never more in evidence than when I had to go through the distressing experience of a twelve month "referral" process after my viva. Her steadfast support and firm guidance ensured that I passed with flying colours second time round! Vicky showed great sensitivity towards my situation as a male researching one of the most bitterly contested aspects of women's lives - the politics and ethics of women's reproductive choices; in my research dealing with a subject - abortion - that was quintessentially taboo in Irish society. She had previously written on this explosive issue when working at University College Dublin with another feminist mentor of mine. Ailbhe Smyth - a pioneering Irish feminist scholar and activist who fronted the successful legalisation of gay marriage and the removal of the anti-abortion Eighth Amendment clause in the Irish Constitution in the respective referenda of 2015 and 2018. Vicky also encouraged me to contribute to the collection of essays The State, Gender and Politics that she co-edited in 1998; I wrote "The State and the Discursive Construction of Abortion" which drew on my PhD research. I would like to think that Vicky and myself had albeit small parts to play in the gender-quake revolutions in the Republic of Ireland referred to above. I just wish we had celebrated these together. Vicky was my rock and mentor through my own personal journey through the politics and lived experience of the personal."
Dr Michael Finbarr (Barry) Gilheany